5 easy steps to get a CDL license and start earning

Step 1. “Being a truck-driver equals good money”

So, you decided to stop fooling around and finally do something to earn money. You probably heard somewhere that CDL drivers earn fortunes, and it’s relatively easy to get into profession. That being said, the first step on your way to become a truck-driver is your actual decision to be one. Think carefully and weigh up the pros and cons of the job.

On the bright side, there’s good money, respect, and… yes, very good money. On the dark side, however, there are: fatigue, over-weight, lack of exercise, and being away from home. The latter is the only drawback that doesn’t have a solution. As for everything else, you can easily take under control your fatigue by taking regular breaks. The solution for lack of exercise and over-weight is to stick to a well-balanced truck-driver’s diet, or to get inspired by Stallone’s character in Over the Top.

 

Step 2. See if you are qualified

Next step is very important. We assume, you are older than 18 and already have your automobile driver’s licence. In North America, there are many systems of vehicle classifications. In the States, to drive a passenger car you need a class D. In Canada, it depends on the province, but mostly it’s class 5. But that’s not all the requirements:

  • You and your driver’s licence should have been together for a couple of years now;
  • You and your driver’s record should have been in good terms for these couple of years;
  • You and your eyes are still good friends;
  • You have been eating your one apple a day, which still keep all the doctors away (meaning, you are in good health).

 

Step 3. Get ready to pass a written test (knowledge test)

Before they give you a permission to actually learn to drive the truck, you have to pass a theoretical exam on how these monstrous machines work. No jokes, we are saving lives here! So, please, take it seriously. These are the topics that you will have to cover:

  • Special signs. You already know the traffic rules when it concerns your passenger car. But you surely noticed special signs and regulations for heavy vehicles, like this one:Special signage
  • Pre-trip inspections. You probably heard that you need to inspect your truck and the cargo before each trip. There are special standards to follow, and you need to be able to demonstrate those skills.
  • Safety precautions. Trust me, they are written with blood, so please, accept them as your own.
  • Logging your work and rest hours. You have to have an idea of a log-book, what’s it for and how to fill it up (it’s close to rocket science)

As to successfully pass the knowledge test, follow this tested technique:

  1. Download the official publications that can differ slightly in the States and in Canada.
  2. Print out the brochures, read them a couple of times. Highlight words and terms that you don’t know.
  3. Draw a mind map for the most complicated terms.
  4. Print out brochures with Questions and Answers. Read a question first and try to guess the answer.
  5. Chose a sparring partner, make him ask you those questions, and try to explain to him as if he was a five-year-old. Even if it sounds controversial, it’s a very powerful tool to make you understand things better. Einstein believed that most complicated things can be explained with simple words.
  6. Pay the fee to pass the written test (it shouldn’t be more expensive than 10 dollars) and schedule the test.
  7. Emotionally and mentally get prepared for failure but hope for the best of course. Rest assured, your efforts will be rewarded, but according to studies, if you are ready for the failure, it doesn’t mess you up a lot, and it’s easier to restart.

Step 4. Back to school!

When you successfully passed your theoretical test, which I don’t doubt, it’s time to actually learn how to drive this monster. It will take you, roughly, from 8 to 24 weeks to do that. Where do they teach you?

  • Vocational schools and training centers, like TTCC in Ontario, Canada or USTDS in Denver or Colorado Springs in the States.
  • Many logistics companies have their own departments of training, like Swift in the States or Challenger in Canada. For them, you are a Freshman they can exploit like a slave for a couple of years; and for you it’s a perfect opportunity to get your first on-the-job experience.
  • Youtube channels will teach you to do these tricks (just kidding):

Step 5. Practice exam (scary!)

Exam consists of two parts.

  1. Pre-trip inspection. Be consistent and clear when performing your round inspection. Show the guy that this safety shit is very important to you.
  2. Road test. Your trainer will probably show you the possible routes that an examiner normally chooses for testing your driving skills. Practice this route several times so that you can concentrate on your driving.  When the time comes for parking test, you can relax. Take as much time and attempts as you need to park the vehicle. Inspectors are normally very lenient to the students when it comes for parking.

Congratulations!

You obtained your CDL licence and are now ready to hit the roads. Join a vast community of truck drivers all across North America. In a couple of years, you will be able to take your first trainee and to explain to him or her all the bumps and steep turns of the profession.